C&I Leasing Plc has confirmed the release of one of its vessels, MV Charis, which was hijacked by sea pirates in Equatorial Guinea, while also commending the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), for the swift intervention and timely release of its vessel-.
Giving details of the incidence, the Managing Director C&I Leasing, Andrew Otike-Odibi, said the vessel was on its way to execute a recovery contract in Equatorial Guinea, when it was hijacked in the country’s territorial waters by sea pirates.
The pirates, he said, attempted to use the ship to attack another marine vessel, MV Blue Marlin, before they were arrested by the authorities of Equatorial Guinea, which detained the two vessels.Disputing online reports alleging the vessel was arrested in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, over piracy activities, Otike-Odibi said: “MV Charis was released on Wednesday, the 29th of May 2019, after a series of interrogation and negotiations with the support of NIMASA representatives, Ambassador Gongulong, Navy Captain Oladipo, and the Spanish Navy. The crew then sailed following inspection and repair of the vessel on the 31st of May 2019.
“A misunderstanding of the specifics occurred between the arresting authorities because on arrival in Malabo, MV Blue Marlin was docked for repairs, with its crew treated decently, while MV Charis and its crew were detained by the police under threat of being charged with piracy, whereas they were equally attacked and hijacked by the pirates.”
He added, “The Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, had announced on the country’s national radio station that 10 sea pirates of Nigerian origin were arrested in relation to the hijacking of a vessel; MV Blue Marlin and this same vessel with another vessel named MV Charis were subsequently handed over to the Equatorial Guinea Navy by the Spanish Navy, as the incident was clearly within their jurisdiction.
“However investigations later revealed that following the attack on Blue Marlin, the pirates destroyed its communication links, leaving only the SAT Line, which was not damaged in the process and was eventually used to make a distress call. C&I Leasing then reached out to NIMASA, who then engaged all the necessary authorities in both Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea to aid the release of the company’s vessel MV Charis. C&I Leasing, thereafter sent a team from its Marine Operations to Equatorial Guinea to help expedite the identification and release of the of MV CHARIS and her crew and return to Nigerian shores.”
The company also commended the Nigerian envoy to Equatorial Guinea, Ambassador Toko Ali Gongulong, the Defence Attaché, Navy Captain Seyi Oladipo, and the Spanish Navy, for their intervention.